Review: Anne of the Island

Anne of the Island
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of those timeless books that always has a new relevant message for you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read this book because I’ve lost count. I read it so much as a girl and loved it dearly.

It’s been a few years since I last read it, and this time through I realized just how much Anne formed my own childhood. Anne made mistakes (pretty bad ones too!), she struggled, she loved, she lost. She has something in common with almost every young girl. And yet, she is an example for every young girl. She grew up to be such a faithful, honest, virtuous girl. She studied hard. She sought after her dreams and kept pushing toward them even when it was hard. She made great friends, offering them kindness, understanding, and love. Though she disliked people, she didn’t really speak harshly about them to others. In fact, she was the one who so often made excuses for people’s bad habits or behavior. She gave them the benefit of the doubt. Anne was a queen of grace and elegance, yet she was a queen who would tramp about the forests among the bugs and the heat to enjoy what nature had to share. She saw beauty in everything around her and had such a wonderful sense of optimism and joy. She truly is such a wonderful rolemodel.

The one thing I find her the best role model in though (at least this read through) is her journey to finding with whom she belonged. We all have dreams of what our “Mr. Right” will be like. We all have dreams of what love will be like. Anne shows us that sometimes “Mr. Right” isn’t who we imagined he’d be, and sometimes love isn’t as high and pompous as we dreamed. Sometimes “Mr. Right” is simply our good friend. Sometimes love is just a simple, yet oh-so-beautiful way of life, if we’d only take the time to see it that way.

This world has so much to tell us about “love”. About how it “should” be and how it shouldn’t be. About how it should feel, how the “right one” should look, and on and on. Books like this one remind us that what the world is talking about is often our dream. It’s a Roy Gardner with dashing dark hair, beautiful eyes, and romantic phrases. But when it comes down to it, love isn’t about dreams, it’s about realities. Dreams say Anne marries Roy. Dreams say Gilbert dies of “love” or lives into old age pining away. Dreams say that looks and feelings are what make love. Reality says that love is finding your best friend, someone you can’t live without. Reality says that Anne may have to face never marrying
Gilbert because she thought the dream of Roy was the reality of love. Dreams make the realities that we have beautiful, Anne taught us that well in the way she looked at every day things, but she also taught us that it is the reality that offers us the chance of dreams, not the dreams that offer us chances at reality. We can’t mix up order of the two.

Honestly, I think there are certain books that belong in a home in which girls reside and this series is one of them. It truly teaches them and gives them gentle advice about how to live and live well.

Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

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Review: A Viscount’s Proposal

A Viscount's Proposal
A Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this book is now vying for top place in my list of Melanie Dickerson favorites. It was very well written and had a lot of suspense.

Mrs. Dickerson does such a wonderful job of giving characters real backgrounds and reasons for acting the way they do. Lord Withinghall doesn’t like Leorah Langdon at first because he has a fear of energetic, boisterous, pretty women. Why? Because his father fell into temptation with one (I won’t say because of one since I am sure that he probably had a bad mindset before he met this woman and wasn’t simply seduced by her). In other words, the Viscount is afraid of following in his father’s path in any way and so he stays away from what his boyish mind had found to blame when he the event occurred: the pretty, energetic woman. So he hides and suppresses his own feelings and expects others to suppress their own so that all might stay away from temptation…wrong mindset here.

That’s where Leorah Langdon comes into the picture. I’m not entirely sure I agree with everything she said, with everything she stood for. At times I thought she might resemble a certain Elizabeth Bennet, but at other times I found her too modern and entirely too opinionated for her time. While I enjoyed the banter back and forth between Leorah and the Viscount, at times I felt it was overdone. I found myself almost cringing at what they said to each other.

That said, I did still thoroughly enjoy this book. As always, I loved how Mrs. Dickerson switched back and forth between the third person “personal” view points. It just makes the story so much more entertaining to get to see things from both main characters’ point of view.

Lastly, the romance! I was very impressed and happy with how Mrs. Dickerson handled the romance in this novel. I felt the characters acted mature and not simply controlled by their feelings. I felt that they truly cared for each other. I felt that the kisses mentioned were not ones thrown away for the feeling of pleasure, but ones given in love and with care.

There are some more mature themes in the book (adultery in various forms etc.) so I would recommend this book for older teens.

Rating (# out of 5):
Violence: 3.5 (Lord Withinghall’s coach driver was killed in an accident that overturned his carriage, broke his leg, and cut a bleeding gash in his forehead. He is shot at multiples times in an attempt to kill him. A man burning with revenge tries to jump toward him and strangle him. Leorah breaks her wrist falling off her horse.)
Romance: 3.5 (The lower rating is simply as a warning about the more mature themes of adultery. I would give it a four in every other point.)
Language: 5 (None that I can remember)

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Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth

A Stranger at Fellsworth
A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mrs. Ladd has done it again! …and in the very best way possible.

Delightful. It’s the word I could use over and over again to describe this book. I keep forgetting how much I enjoyed Mrs. Ladd’s book A Lady at Willowgrove Hall; it reminded me so much of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South, mostly the movie). I am glad in a way I forgot though, because it made reading this book all the more delightful (I am sorry, but that word is probably going to show up again and again).

Annabelle’s story was solid. The fear, the rejection, the reasons she fled, all were sound and believable. The plot was incredible in my opinion. I enjoyed every moment of this book. There were a few times I wasn’t so sure about reasoning behind certain things though. For instance, the poaching. I know poaching is bad and it was made clear that people could make money by doing it, but I was confused as to why Mr. Bartrell was doing it. I thought he was pretty well off. On top of that, I wasn’t convinced that poaching could bring in a sum large enough to be of significance to men of fortune. I had assumed that poaching was something that only those not used to a high income would use to gain more money. I think this could have simply been fixed by mention of what amounts of money they might have been making. Or even just mention that it was helping rid them of their debts, which would imply that they were making a considerable amount of money through poaching. Regardless, the story was still delightful though I didn’t quite understand this point. Truth be told, that may be only my impression.

The characters and character development was truly grand. I loved getting to know Annabelle and Owen and Hannah. In fact, I have rarely met characters I enjoyed getting to know as I did these. I absolutely loved how Annabelle and Owen spent the majority of their time together in the novel speaking on “normal” terms. Meaning, they seemed to form a friendship and act as friends for almost the entire book, rather than form a romance and act as two people in love. This is one of those books that simply made me smile. I truly felt that Owen loved Annabelle for who she was, not for her looks, not for her money. I saw their relationship as one that would last, since it was founded on a mutual denial of self for the sake of the other. I applaud Mrs. Ladd for writing such a praiseworthy story with such role model characters!

A truly delightful story for mid-teens and up.

This book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All comments here stated are completely my own.

Ratings (# out of 5):
Violence: 4 (They spoke of hanging as a punishment for poaching.)
Romance: 3.5 (Mr. Bartrell was a little too comfortable at one point bursting Annabelle’s personal bubble, but nothing untoward happened. Her brother did wind up hitting her while he was drunk because she was running away from home. These are the reasons I would most suggest this book for older teens. There was kissing towards the end of the novel, but I think it was approached and presented in a good light. It was not overly dramatic or described in depth.)
Language: 5 (I cannot recall any ill-use of language)

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Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

Review: The Austen Escape

The Austen Escape
The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Disclaimer: This review contains spoilers*

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. At the beginning I was confused by the plot. I wasn’t sure what Golightly was and why it meant so much to Mary. I didn’t quite understand the whole thing with Nathan either, especially since they seemed to be heading in different directions from the beginning of the story.

I have to say though, that the longer I read, the more I understood. And, of course, the more I enjoyed the story. For those of you who liked Shannon Hale’s Austenland, this is a similar book…just without a couple more mature scenes. While this is a cleaner novel, I still would only suggest it to older teens as it does deal with abuse (neglect not physical) and the mental affects stemming from the abuse.

I haven’t enjoyed a book like this in quite a while. I loved how the some of the characters spoke about Austen with such familiarity while others were rather clueless. I loved the engineering aspect Mary brought in with how she thought and saw things. I loved the musical aspect with the piano. (Also, Bosendorfers… ) I loved how the characters spent time doing normal every day things together (even though they were pretending to be characters from Austen in Austen’s time). I loved how the issues brought up in the story were resolved in the end. All the misunderstandings with Nathan, Isabel, and with Mary herself.

There were a few things that didn’t wrap up very well. I was really confused by Mary’s reaction to Nathan discussing work with Craig. She’s in love with him judging by the way she was acting only 10 minutes before, but the moment she hears him talking to Craig and mentioning her name she concludes she must be getting fired. Why? Not really sure…unless it was just her insecurity about Karen not liking her. But then she refuses to listen to anything Nathan has to say and books a flight home to America without telling him…she doesn’t even ask him what the call was about? Doesn’t give him time to explain? Quits her job? Albeit, all this confusion and hubbub draws the conclusion out very nicely, but I really questioned the reasons the confusion and hubbub were caused. That’s really my “con” though.

This book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and comments here expressed are entirely my own.

Ratings (# out of 5):
Violence: 4 (not physical violence but neglect)
Romance: 4 (There was kissing, but not a ridiculous amount and not mentioned in detail. Also, I applaud the writer for having the couple talk and spend time together before a kiss is ever given…meaning the first kiss was towards the end of the book)
Language: 5 (I don’t remember any language)

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Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

Review: The Noble Servant

The Noble Servant
The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story was great! I really enjoyed it. Most especially since the kissing and “romance” were kept towards the end of the book when the main characters were actually betrothed. I really loved this and found it very admirable in Mrs. Dickerson keeping up the tension and interest of the reading in the main characters story even while waiting until the right moment for them to kiss.

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale was a book I read as an early teen and I personally loved reading about the girl working with the geese in the fields. When I heard this book was a retelling of the Goose girl, I wondered if it would contain that element. I am happy to report it did! The scenes with the main characters looking after their respective flock and gaggle were some of my favorite parts…and the humor that flowed between them was quite fun to read.

Definitely another good read for teens!

Ratings (# out of 5)
Romance: 4 (This book was actually very clean in my opinion! The only kissing that happened before Steffan and Magdalen were betrothed was kissing on the cheek. There were only about five not super descriptive kisses after they were betrothed.)
Violence: 3 (Steffan kills three men throughout the course of the book. Of course in self-defense, and it’s not very descriptive at all.)
Language: 5
Substance Abuse: 5 (Don’t remember any language or substance abuse.)
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Review: The Rose and the Balloon: A Beauty and the Beast Story

The Rose and the Balloon: A Beauty and the Beast Story
The Rose and the Balloon: A Beauty and the Beast Story by Kirsten Fichter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a clever little book. Not too long, not too short. Yet profound in a simple and satisfying way.

This is the story of misunderstanding. It’s the tragedy of the prejudice of man. It’s the joy of his discovering mercy and forgiveness and changing his ways. It’s the story of loosing sight of beauty and discovering it again in the very simple things around us.

I really think this is a must read. While it has a definite fictional feel and a rather unrealistic (but very amusing!) line of humor, this book speaks of something deeper. Never read a book for the simple story written on the page. Always read it for the message about the truths of humanity (its faults and virtues). Only true, good novels contain such messages, and this delightful little story has succeeded in that height.

Very well done, Miss Fichter!

Ratings:
All categories get five. I find nothing to mention to the wary parents or reader.

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Review: The Sweetest Rain

The Sweetest Rain
The Sweetest Rain by Myra Johnson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mrs. Johnson’s style of writing is wonderful. You can tell that she took great care in making sure her setting is correct in the historical properties. I loved this, seeing that some stories you aren’t really sure about the accuracy of the historical part.

Another thing that stood out to me was that the characters were find in their time period. They weren’t the types of characters we see so often in historical fiction who wish that there was some way to cool down (a.k.a. a fan, or A/C) while those things were not yet invented. Her characters, while they struggled with the heat and depression, felt only the frustration of a person in their present struggles. They didn’t struggle because they wished for something from the future. Having just read a wonderful blog post by author Hayden Wand about this particular subject, I was delighted to read a book by an author so intent on making her stories accurate and believable.

The storyline of this novel was wonderful. I was reminded of Louisa May Alcott’s writing (mostly Little Women) while reading, which made me very happy. (L.M. Alcott is one of my favorite authors and I wish there were more novels like her in the world.)

The only things I really found slightly disappointing were the speed at which Byrony and Michael fell in love and how much kissing there was. Now, with the amount of kissing in this book, I might have set the book down, but Mrs. Johnson, I feel, dealt modestly with the descriptions. (On a side note: a girl named Veronique was mentioned a few times at the beginning of the book, but her story in reference to Michael’s life was never explained)

Another praise for Mrs. Johnson: I often find after reading books that, even though I related in some way with the characters and couldn’t set the book down, I can’t remember the character’s names when writing up my review. Not so with her books! Somehow she makes their names memorable. Maybe it was the fact that Byrony’s name was the name of a flower (I didn’t know there was a flower with that name), but that wouldn’t explain why I remember the names Michael (the male character), Sebastian (Michael’s father), George (Byrony’s grandfather), Rose and Larkspur (Byrony’s sister), Odette, Alice, Esther (servants), etc. Somehow Mrs. Johnson made those characters truly come alive in a way that implanted their names in my memory. Truly a great accomplishment.

I do recommend this book for older crowds. It is definitely written for readers at least 16 and up.

Ratings (# out of 5)
Romance: 3.7 (Because of the kissing. There is also a woman who conceives outside of marriage, but there is not descriptions of this part)
Violence: 5
Language: 5
Substance Abuse: 5
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Review: The Silent Songbird

The Silent Songbird
The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Westley Le Wyse. First of all, the name is absolutely wonderful. Second, Westley is a great character. He was caring, gentlemanly, and, as a soon-to-be-Lord should be, great at fighting. (Sounds like a certain character from a certain book or movie carrying the same name. No, I’m not upset about that or anything of the sort, just mentioning.)

Evangeline. Again, love the name. (After all, I did use it for one of my own main characters in one of my novels. As well as the nickname. It would seem I chose well!) Second, she’s believable, which is a great characteristic for every fictional character.

She has been living almost all her life locked inside a castle (mostly in a tower, I think. Sound like any familiar fairy tale?). She desires to see the outside world. She desires to be cared for. I love how her desires and insecurities have reasons behind them. She was used ill by one of her nursemaids so she is rather insecure, which led to her believing that no one really does (or could) care for her. Of course this belief led the natural human desire in her for love to become stronger. Hence her conviction and perseverance in running away from a loveless marriage. All believable. Everything is backed up with reality.

I do not want to ruin the story with my review (or any review), so I will not mention exactly what happens in the story or really comment on it.

I will say that, while this story was a retelling of the Little Mermaid and Rapunzel, it was not glaringly obvious (which I like!). Sometimes when you read a fairy tale retelling-such as the popular Cinderella retellings-you get bored because you cannot forget it is a retelling. You know exactly what is going to happen because the story is so close to the original.

Mrs. Dickerson does such a wonderful job of having key points from fairy tales, but keeping her own unique twists and story line. If you didn’t know what fairy tale her book was retelling, you might have a hard time actually figuring out which one it was. I like that. Why?

Because it means she is writing her own story. She is not taking the Grimm Brothers’ story and changing the names and adding a few twists and presenting it as her own story. Doing that is pretty easy. Taking a few points and adding them to a unique storyline is harder, but I believe the result is beautiful.

Now to the content:
This is one of the reasons I don’t really like Mrs. Dickerson’s The Fairest Beauty. It is a good book, I like the characters, but both Sophie and Gabe know that they should not fall in love and should not treat each other with undo intimacy. Yet they think this and realize it and then turn around and do exactly what they think they should not do.

My point in mentioning this is, I very much appreciated and admired Westley in his persistence in keeping a fair distance. He was obviously in love with her and so, as we saw, could not help wanting to be around her, but he did not go farther than that. He did not kiss her, he did not say anything personal: he kept a distance. I applaud him! And I applaud Mrs. Dickerson for writing that!

Moving to the actual “romance”. The kissing was much more mild in this story, though there was a little more at the end. Until toward the very end, Westley only kissed Evangeline on the cheek or forehead. I loved that!

I felt as though it relayed a modesty, an understanding of the current situation and what was due to the other person. They hadn’t known each other long, Evangeline was still “technically” betrothed, and they did not know what was going to happen.

The violence was a little more graphic in my opinion. Though I am really only thinking of one seen when some men were shot with arrows. It is not incredibly graphic, of course, but more graphic than I remember any of Mrs. Dickerson other stories being.

There was of course no language.

This story is probably still more appropriate for older teens since there are little parts with Lord Shiveley which are more appropriate for more mature readers. Nothing is very descriptive. Extent of his touching her is her arm and slapping her.

Ratings (# out of 5):
Romance: 3 (This is keeping in mind the parts with Lord Shiveley)
Violence: 3
Language: 5
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Review – Helena

         The book Helena by Evelyn Waugh is a fictional story based on the life of St. Helena, covering her life from before she married to the finding of the Cross and her death. Books such as this one present to the reader the life of a saint in a relatable way. They show the transformation of sinner to saint, yet Helena is truly a simple saint. She is the kind of saint who shows those in this world that sanctity is not beyond their reach. In Helena Waugh portrays the transformation of Helena from a haughty, fickle, rather vain princess to a determined, faithful, confident but grumpy Christian woman. This transformation is caused by her seemingly insignificant every day choices and yet they lead her to discover the Cross and reach Heaven.

          At the beginning of the book, the reader finds Helena in her most naïve, selfish state of life. She is a young girl, still a teen, and acts very much like one. The opening scene portrays Helena listening to her tutor Marcias reading the story of the Illiad and Helena of Troy. It is here that her selfishness and pride are first displayed. She compares herself to Helena of Troy, connecting herself to her in more ways than is practical, real, or healthy. As she sits, she allows her simple surroundings and thoughts to distract her from her tutor’s reading, as though she were so important that history was unimportant in contrast. In this way she puffs herself up, blinding herself to who she truly is.

A perfect portrayal of this haughtiness in Helena is shown in the scene in which sits on her throne with her family. As a recital is performed in front of her, Helena sits and allows her thoughts to race. She is on a horse, fighting with it for control. As the play progresses, she gains control of the horse and finally is able to trot arrogantly around, allowing the horse to display her majesty and strength. It is at such a point and with such thoughts that she boldly meets the gaze of Constantius. These fantastic dreams blind Helena to the fact that she has no true power. She is the daughter of a king, but she is not destined for more than being a wife and mother. Dreaming of taking control of her own life and seeking to see great cities such as Rome and Troy only cause her unrest. The life she has is not enough for her, and her dreams and false sense of power lead her to follow an ill path.

          Swayed by hopes of fulfilling her dreams, Helena makes a choice to disregard her father’s apprehension at her marriage to Constantius. At first it might seem as though Helena truly loves Constantius, but her words belie that she does not. “I must go with Constantius, Papa, wherever he goes,” she says to her father, “Besides, he’s promised to take me to the City.”[1] At first her words relax the reader. She must love Constantius to be willing to travel with him anywhere he might be called on military duty, but her last words reveal her true motivation. There is nothing she wants more than to travel the world and visit Rome and to her the offer of marriage from a foreigner such as Constantius is the perfect way to do so. In her immature state she does not think through all the possible consequences of such a decision. She thinks only of her own feelings and wishes. With this childish mindset she enters marriage.

            Marriage really does not change Helena. She keeps her focus on reaching Rome and is openly disappointed when Constantius tells her they are not immediately heading for the City. Staying in Nish and submitting to Constantius’ bidding starts a growth in Helena though. Up unto this point, she never had to submit to anyone. She did not listen to her tutor about her attitude towards history. She did not listen to her father about her marriage with Constantius. Now though, she has to obey her husband. While this starts something new in her, it is quite a while longer before a change truly takes place.

The start of Helena’s change begins with her conception of Constantine. At first she seems rather proud of the fact, but in an odd way, treating the situation more like having won a valued prize than having received a gift. Because she is with child, she is left behind as Constantius finally travels to Rome. Of course this reality is hard for her to accept. For a while she is mournful and “[half-grudges] the child in her womb its life and power to hold her imprisoned.”[2] Yet as time goes on she tries to accept her situation and wait patiently for the time when she can finally visit Rome. This is the first time Helena has truly accepted something through her own wishes. Before, when Constantius was with her, she accepted things only because he would not put up with her if she did not. Now, left alone for months, she has a choice to make. She can mourn and give herself pity, or she can accept her lot and try to make the best of her time.

             By the time Constantine is grown, Helena has truly changed. She has grown to be satisfied with her lot in life and not to fight against it. In fact, when Constantius tells her he has remarried and divorced her she responds with silence. The first thing she asks of Constantius is not ‘why’. Rather, she asks whether she can return to Britain with Constantine. Her transformation is not quite complete though. She has accepted her fate, but she still has yet to move forward. A conversation she has with one of her friends portrays this. Her friend tells her she acts as though her life is over. To this she replies, “It is really, at least all I used to think was life.”[3]

             Up until her divorce, Helena truly seemed to live for one thing: getting to Rome. As her life went on though, she became more separated from the hope of fulfilling this desire. She seemed to let go a little more each time the fulfillment of her dream seemed to further distance itself from her. After her divorce she truly lets go, but having held on to hopes for so long, she seems lost without a purpose. In this state of mind, she first encounters Christianity.

           At first Helena only questions Christianity as she had done with every other religion she had encountered. Other believers from different religions had called her questions ‘childish’, but Christianity did not seem to think her questions childish. In fact, it seemed to have answers to all her questions, even if she had to wait to receive them. While the book does not describe this in detail, it is clear that becoming Christian truly completes Helena’s transformation.

           Before becoming Christian, Helena was haughty and proud, yet not exactly very confident. She clung to dreams and to others such as Constantius to give herself worth. She found confidence in them, not in herself. As a Christian though, she is perfectly confident in herself. Nothing seems to daunt her, and her confidence is astounding. In her dealings with her son the emperor and his wife, she is never swayed by political correctness. She says what she thinks and asks questions about what she does not understand. It is this attitude of character, this firm confidence that leads her to finding the True Cross.

Once the idea of finding the True Cross enters Helena’s head, she is determined to follow through with it. She enlists the aid of others in finding the Cross and through it all her unwavering confidence guides the mission. Her actions were very ordinary and it is in this way that Helena is truly a simple saint. This simplicity is what Waugh said he found most appealing about St. Helena. He said, “I liked Helena’s sanctity because it is in contrast to all that moderns think of sanctity…She just discovered what it was God had chosen for her to do and did it.”[4] She was not a martyr, nor a great Theologian, nor a pious, virtuous religious. She was only a grandmother determined to find the True Cross, and a rather cantankerous one at that.

               The life Helena led is a wonderful example for every Christian in the modern world. It shows them that sanctity is not impossible for them. Helena lived a rather normal life. She was a self-centered young girl who made mistakes which left her in a rather pitiable state later in life. Yet her choices allowed her to make the most of her situation. She became Christian and discovered the True Cross, a feat which will always be remembered. So it is that Helena’s story, the story of a saint, is the merely that of a girl who chose to do what she ought.

[1] Waugh (Chicago, IL: Loyala Press, 1950), 35.

[2] Waugh, 67.

[3] Waugh, 78.

[4] Waugh, xiv.

Ratings (# out of 5)

Romance: 4.5 (There is a part where possible intimacy is hinted at between Constantine and his wife.)

Violence: 5

Language: 5

Substance Abuse: 5

While the story may be one that is suitable for any age, the deep concepts will most likely go over a child’s head.

Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!

Therese May Signature

Review – Fraying at the Edge (The Amish of Summer Grove, Book 2)

9781601427014

A wonderfully crafted story about a young Amish woman and a young “Englisch” woman who have a very strange connection.

Ariana, a loving Amish woman, is happy with her life. Everything was going well. She had a loving boyfriend. An amazing family. A new café. But then she found out that her biological parents weren’t the ones she had been living with for the past twenty years.

Skylar’s world is slowly crashing. Her world and dream of acting has been ripped from her because of a failing grade. She’s struggling. Her family is a mismatched one. Her mother and father weren’t married when she was conceived. Her father didn’t want anything to with her for years. He remarried. Her mother married someone who already had a daughter. So much confusion and emotional stress caused her to be a little unstable. She turned to drugs. If an Amish couple and an ex-Amish young man hadn’t come digging up the past, she would have been able to live out her relatively comfortable miserable life without interruption. But an unexpected blood test leaves her with a choice: go to rehab for a year or live with her ‘real’ parents (who happen to be Amish) for a year.

Ariana and Skylar both struggle to get used to the new worlds they’ve entered. Ariana struggles to follow her parents’ wishes while trying to follow her own conscience, while Skylar struggles to get past her anger towards her parents and her prejudice against her new family.

This story is an incredible one. I love the way Cindy Woodsmall has woven this story. In this series, I have been delighted to find a very original story. At every turn in the plot, it seems, I am surprised. I expect the story to go one way because so many stories follow a certain plot, but it takes a different turn. The unexpected twists don’t annoy as some might, rather they add a certain sense of reality and freshness to the story.

This novel, like the first, deals with many mature themes. Drugs, adultery, etc. I really do recommend using caution when recommending or reading this book. For an older teen, I think the themes are perfectly acceptable (if the teen is mature and understanding), because the topics are presented in a good light.  Nothing is presented as good that should not be. (Exception: I will mention one part when *spoiler alert* Abram is speaking to Cilla and it almost seems as though they are implying asking the Bishops’ to use contraceptives.)

 

Ratings (# out of 5)

Romance: 2.5 (There were a few kisses, but this story really wasn’t centered around romance. It was the story of two girls coming to grips with their new surroundings. There was a scene in which Ariana sees a prostitute receiving money from a man (nothing further), but she knows that the girl is selling herself. This is why I gave this category such a low rating. It was presented in the right way, but it was weighty and would be/could be very disturbing to those of more innocent or sensitive natures.)

Violence: 4 (I don’t remember any instances of violence.)

Language: 5 (I don’t remember any instances of vulgar language.)

Substance Abuse: 3 (I give this such a high rating even though this novel has a lot of substance discussion because the presentation is so delicate. It’s presented as what it is, something that shouldn’t be used.)

 

I thank Mrs. Woodsmall for writing such an interesting, well-written book. She truly is a master writer in this modern era. I am looking forward to reading the third and concluding book of “The Amish of Summer Grove” series.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts expressed above are completely my own.